Eintracht Frankfurt have lost on away goals in a 5-5 aggregate draw with FC Porto. Thursday's return leg in Germany ended 3-3, with Porto scoring the decisive goal late on to make the round of 16.
Always the underdogs against Champions League qualifiers Porto, Frankfurt looked destined to progress for much of the second leg against Porto at the Coface Arena on Thursday.
The hosts took the lead with a splendid team goal shortly before the break, with Stefan Aigner providing the finish. Captain Pirim Schwegler, Tranquilo Barnetta, Sebastian Jung and Alex Meier were all involved in the one-touch move down the right flank to open up Porto's defense.
After half-time, Alex Meier stretched the lead to two goals and Frankfurt looked in control at 4-2 on aggregate, following their 2-2 draw in Portugal. Carlos Zambrano played a long ball over Porto's defense as Meier and Barnetta sprang the offside trap. Barnetta brought the ball under control and negated Porto's keeper and captain Helton to provide Meier with a tap-in.
First leg in reverse
But just as Frankfurt had canceled out a two-goal away deficit, Porto came back to tie the score at 2-2. Central defender Eliaquim Mangala scored both goals, one from a short corner routine and the other from a free kick which some Frankfurt players felt was unduly awarded to Porto.
"The first Porto goal could have been stopped," coach Veh said after the game. "We just never switched on. But otherwise I've no major complaints for the team."
Yet Alex Meier restored the Frankfurt advantage on 76 minutes, barely five after Mangala's second.
In the closing phases of the game, just as coach Armin Veh took off striker Joselu for another midfielder, Porto struck again. Substitute Nabil Ghilas scored on the follow-up after Kevin Trapp had spectacularly saved the initial shot from another Porto sub, Lica.
The hosts were not able to restore their lead in the dying moments, bringing their European campaign to a close at the round of 32.
Veh's side can now turn their attention to Sunday's important Bundesliga encounter with Stuttgart; both teams have been struggling in the league this season and are seeking to escape the relegation battle.
"We should take some self-confidence out of today's game and into Sunday," Veh said afterwards. "We definitely can pass Sunday's test."